Life in a college town: A lesson in success


Mansfield University students received a lesson in success at a conference titled “Operation Ambition: A Pathway for the Success of Underrepresented Students” on April 14.

Operation Ambition was created to mimic the Black Male Summit that occurs annually at Akron University in Akron, Ohio. Last April, Jason Roscoe, the coordinator of minority mentoring, and Alan Zellner, social equity and multicultural officer, took a small group of men to the summit where they met motivational speaker, Brian Heat. Heat was the closing speaker at both the Black Male Summit and the conference. Junior and President of Men for Progress and Men of Distinguished Excellence (MODE), Laquan Magruder has been working since last year to organize the event.

Dr. Christopher Bridges, vice provost and dean of students at Mansfield University gave the opening address in which he spoke about the power of education.

“Education has the power and opportunity to change our entire lives,” Bridges said.

Albert Jones, associate director of human relations and assistant for social equity at Lock Haven University was the first major speaker. Jones presented five steps for success, which include, know who you are, build your network, work your plan, play to win and keep looking for the “cheese,” in reference to the book Who Moved my Cheese by Spencer Johnson. Basically, he was saying that one should be prepared and continue to work hard because “the cheese” is not guaranteed to stay.

Evelyn Davis was a speaker during the first of the three sessions in which attendees were able to pick which presentation to attend.

Other speakers for session one included alumnus Josh Pollitt who presented Understanding the Four Stages of Success and Robert Bailey who presented Descendants of Slaves.

Davis incorporated her love of baking with steps to success. When baking a chocolate cake, one must first gather the tools needed for the creation that they want in the end. Next, add only some of the dry ingredients, then wet ingredients, then the rest. Davis stated, “sometimes we want to speed up the process, but we must make sure we follow the recipe.”

Session two choices were Silina Garrett, author and program coordinator at Drexel University and Wahida Mohammed, founder and CEO of the black hub and executive manager of Lavatory Assistance Inc., who spoke about critical thinking and autodidacts.

Garrett also followed the pathway to success theme. Her presentation was titled “Breaking out of the Box: Defining Success from Within.”

Here, she spoke about the way we view success. Sometimes success is getting a degree and working as a security guard until we find the right job. At times the path to success starts rough, but gets better. “There is always an opportunity for in even the toughest of situations,” Garrett said.

Session three included Marvin Carter, residence hall director at Bloomsburg University and Marcus Williams III. Williams is a Mansfield University alumnus and founder of T.E.A.C.H. KIDS, a mentoring program designed to help youth learn the importance of education and life skills in order to compete in the 21st century. He spoke about the importance of learning professional skills during high school and college that will help us in our next step in life, starting a successful career especially in the corporate world.

Williams shared the do’s and don’ts of corporate America that the education system doesn’t give us even in college. “His words were really inspiring. Usually you hear you can be anything, but he gave us a method,” Mansfield University student Dominique Hudson said.

Headliner, Brian Heat is an inspirational speaker. He reinforced the steps or path to success theme as well. “Build the individual, then the legend,” Heat said, “It all starts from within.” Next, one must find a passion, and then chase it. One also must find the “white spaces.” These are places in the industry have not been filled yet. In other words, find something that no one has done and do it. Be creative. “Master the map, but explore the wilderness,” Heat said.

Last July organizers were able to get in touch with Heat.

Steve Plesac, director of student activities and programming, was able to negotiate prices.

Heat usually receives at least $5,000 per appearance. However, Plesac was able to lessen this price and the conference cost is $3,000. Mansfield University students could attend for free. Other attendees had to pay $10.

“This charge is to offset the cost of the event,” Zellner said. Magruder, is hoping to continue to have these type of conferences every year.

“In the future, we want to have nationally known speakers and create partnerships with neighboring schools to make Mansfield University more known,” Zellner said.

Sponsors of this event include MODE, Men for Progress, the Black Student Union (BSU), the minority mentoring program and multicultural affairs.